Smoke in the Pit: A first look

David McCrindle
Succulent slabs: Smoke in the Pit delivers bold, true barbecue in Powderhorn

After a months-long hiatus to make the move from its former East Lake Street location, Dwight Alexander's fabulous Smoke in the Pit is now open in Powderhorn near the intersection of 38th & Chicago Avenue. The modest space contains a kitchen, single restroom for customers, and a small waiting area filled with the intoxicating, hunger pang-inducing scent of smoked meat.

Much like Ted Cook's 19th Hole BBQ, which is just a little over a mile down the road, Smoke in the Pit operates on a take-out only basis, though they also offer catering services for large orders.

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As a Little Rock native and barbecue purist, Alexander's approach is slow cooking over a low temperature in a wood-smoker. True to proper barbecue technique, he never allows anything to touch flame but there's still a unique char and chewiness that develops on the exterior of meat - the ribs in particular.

The succinct but totally sufficient menu includes a few dinner combo options: beef brisket sandwich (there was also a special smoked turkey version available on our visit), fried catfish, rib tips, a half slab of ribs, or six chicken wings which you can order either fried or smoked (we highly recommend the latter) that all come with a handful of fries and a side of coleslaw or baked beans. It's plenty of food for one person and the prices are very reasonable, with most meals ringing in under ten bucks.

David McCrindle
Smoked is the new fried

The ribs easily achieve the fall-off-the-bone texture one looks for in good old-fashioned barbecue and are deeply infused with peppery flavor. Though delicious on their own, we also loved them doused in Alexander's own vinegary, tomato-based barbecue sauce. It's thinner and less sweet than most other variations we've had around town, and is especially good with Smoke in the Pit's crispy seasoned french fries. We were surprised to be even more bowled over by the whole joint-in smoked chicken wings (pictured above). As much as we love crispy fried wings, these are far more interesting and are great even at room temperature, with their blackened skin and moist, salty meat. 

Round out your meal with a cornbread muffin (a tad on the dry side, but with great gritty cornmeal texture and just a hint of sweetness) and a homemade dessert (that day it was peach cobbler, served warm). You'll be stuffed and scheming about how soon you can return to Smoke in the Pit to try more of Dwight Alexander's food because whatever he's smoking, you should be eating.

Smoke in the Pit
3733 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis

Location Info

Smoke In The Pit

3733 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

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Dan Reis
Dan Reis

Vegetarian/vegan articles please


Neither "old school" nor "new school" (made up terms) barbecue should fall off the bone. Real bbq should break cleanly when bitten, ideally so that you can see individual teeth marks. 

While smoke in the pit may be good, this reviewer is terrible.


@Pfutz I don't recall using the terms old school or new school anywhere in this terrible article, but what you refer to as "real bbq" just sounds like a different style from Smoke in the Pit's.  


@emily.weiss  Old fashioned was the phrase you used, my mistake. KCBS, MBN, all the major "styles" share the same texture criteria for judging. Fall off the bone isn't the ideal, and it's incorrect to say it is. 

The whole article comes off as oddly written. You talk about indirect wood smoking like it's a special technique - it's the standard gig. Correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I know nobody in the area (not even out in Bayport) does open pit barbecue. 

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